Sunday, 25 April 2010

Prefab Research

Just a quick report this week to say I have been continuing my research into prefabs that I will be using with the module. I have continued to find other work by SGK73 that I will be using and hope to find other material as I continue to look around. Looking at these areas does help to encourage one into action.

Background: The Life Magik Stream

I have also started work on another concept this week. It helps form the basis of the main adventure and continues to develop the Life Magik system. Its idea is similar to the Realm of Shadow in play. Here is an introduction to the idea (that I hope to have in a game manual), which is also something the PC's will learn about as they continue their adventure:
The Life Magik Stream is the means by which all magik flows through the
different universes. It is a continuous invisible force that acts like a river
flowing with many tributaries into every area of life. Those with the knowledge,
can tap into its neverending source and are able to do both wonderful and
terrible things. Whether directly, or with divine help, there are those that
use its power either to create or destroy. Remnants of the stream, mere
droplets, can be found by those who know what to look for. These are known as the Life Essence.

I took my inspiration for the idea from two sources. The first was from the original System Shock's Cyberspace and the second from reading Robon Hobb's Farseer Trilogy. Mix the two ideas together, add a little Althéa campaign and you have the Life Magik stream. I hasten to add that this concept is NOT the same as these ideas, but like any idea, does share similarities. Another example of trying to express the concept is to recall the effect in the Lord of the Ring films when Frodo puts on the ring and enters the shadowy realm of the wraiths. Again, my idea has similarities to this, but is NOT the same.

Robin Hobb Blog

In my search for a link to show the work by Robin Hobb, I came across her own blog. I have added it to my list of blogs for anybody else interested in her work.

Friday, 16 April 2010

'P' Is For ...

... Progress

Although my wife has been taking some of my time over the last two weeks, I have still been able to make progress with the module. In particular, I have been able to come close to finishing a puzzle I had in mind and am very happy with the final product. Furthermore, I have been taking a closer look at some prefabs, because I have made the decision to include these where possible, simply to expedite the process of creation.

... Puzzle

Like most of my puzzles to date, I have made use of the ability to create GUIs in NWN2. Furthermore, I have taken on board the comments over the last couple of weeks and concentrated on a puzzle that only involved simple logic rather than anything too convoluted. I have also added a new feat as an option to aid in this type of puzzle as well as offer the player an alternative way to bypass the puzzle by buying and using "Decipher Devices".

This puzzle is actually supposed to represent a "Coded Mechanism", which can be deciphered by the player being able to decipher simple puzzles with their PC. Here is how the player will first be presented with the puzzle:

Notice that the player is given instructions and a warning that they are about to start a TIMED puzzle when they first encounter it.

When the player decides to start decoding the puzzle, the question is given according to a specified difficulty level and a TIMER is started (unless the PC has the Expert Decoder feat). Each question is randomly set according to its DC at each attempt.

The puzzle comes in 6 parts and the player must try to answer all parts, either by answering each question correctly or using a Decipher tool to bypass the current puzzle part.

The TIMER counts down in the CHAT window. The player may attempt the answer all the while they have time, even if they make a mistake. The TIMER varies in length according to the difficulty of question asked. The SUBMIT ANSWER button is disabled when the TIMER runs down.

If the PC has the new Althéa Expert Decoder feat, then the TIMER is disabled and they may take as long as they need. Here is what the Expert Decoder feat looks like.

... Prefabs

I had hoped to avoid using prefabs if possible, for two reasons:

1) I was afraid they may be seen too often in modules and put people off playing if seen again.
2) I was hoping to be able to design all areas myself.

However, purely for practical reasons, it makes sense to make use of other people's work where possible. After all, I can still make tweaks and discard bits I don't want or need. Furthermore, I also reasoned that by the time these areas were encountered, the player will hopefully be too involved with the story and game to be put off by a repetition of a scene.

I am currently considering using all or part of the following prefabs, with the view to consider others in the future:

This is a scene from SGK73 "Just Add Encounters" prefab.

This is a scene from Hosa's "Forgotten Village" prefab

POLL: What Turns You Off A Module?

A reminder ... if you haven't voted in the poll yet (on the left hand side), then please do and feel free to comment. Only two weeks left!

Friday, 9 April 2010

Retro Inspiration On Windows 7

My wife has been off work this week (holiday) and so I have not been doing any work on the module as we have been spending the time doing a few things we wanted to do together. She is off next week as well, but I hope to get a little more time working on the module as she writes an assay she has to do for her study. However, while I have not had the chance to do any more module work, I have spent a little time looking at some of my older games and seeing if I can get them to work on Windows 7. I picked out a handful of games and managed to get every single one to work. I am hoping to look at/play them again and get some inspiration when it comes to quests and puzzles. Let's call it homework. ;)

Because others may also be interested in my results, I will post them here for reference. Furthermore, if anybody has any other older game that they have had problems with (and I have it), I will gladly see if I can get it to work on my own computer and see if any extra considerations need to be taken into account when installing. Anyway, here are the results of four classic games that I now have working just fine:

Heretic II

Wiki information on Heretic II found here.

- Install from the SETUP.EXE in SETUP directory rather than the root directory. (Patched to version 1.06)
- Use compatibility Mode Windows XP (SP3)
- If game fails to start (crashes to desktop), start the TUTORIAL GAME first, then escape to menu and start normal game.
- Any SAVES will work now without having to start the TUTORIAL.

Hexen II

Wiki information on Hexen II found here.

- Install as normal. (Patched to version 1.11)
- Compatibility Mode Windows XP (SP2)
- Delete "opengl32.dll" file from the Hexen II directory. (Allows modern video cards to work.)
- Make a shortcut with "C:\Hexen II\glh2.exe" -width 1280 -height 1024 -bpp 32 in the target.

Thief II - The Metal Age

Wiki information on Thief II found here.

- Install as normal. (Premiere collection version.)
- No compatibility changes.
- Set SOUND with hardware accelerator ON and 4 Channels only. (Other settings may randomly freeze the game.)
- Install Indeo Video 5 CODEC. (Required for ingame video to work.)

Will Rock

Wiki information on Will Rock found here.

- Install as normal. (Bundled software.)
- No compatibility changes.

All these games (except Thief II) can be played in a co-op multi-player as well. A friend and I are going to play some of these games again because we recall how much fun we had with them at the time. Many can still be purchased for only a few pounds and are worth it for the hours of fun that can still be had with them if you like this sort of thing. :)

POLL: What Turns You Off A Module?

And once again ... if you haven't voted in the poll yet (on the left hand side), then please do and feel free to comment.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Scotney Castle

Thank-you to everybody who responded to last week's blog with their own puzzle-related stories. I spent some time finishing off the puzzles coding this week. I still have a little more to do, but should finish it next week and will then start moving on with area design and general building of the module, which may mean the overall speed of progress will increase.

Database Issue

In the process of designing the puzzles, I came across a problem with the NWN database facility. Depending upon how you name your variables to store data, it can cause quite a serious problem. I made a post on the forums and if you ever use the database facility, you can read more about it here. I also provide a workaround for the problem in that thread.

Inspiration: Scotney Castle

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to go out with my wife and her parents to visit Scotney Castle. I don't get out very often due to illness, but this day went reasonably well and I was able to take some photos of the visit. The buildings and grounds were a pleasure to see and their antiquity reminded me of some of the buildings in my own module. The first shot below, in particular, reminded me of the Borantan Church the PCs will have the chance to visit near the beginning of the adventure. The following pictures are just a sample of the many that can be seen from this link. (I soon discovered I was not allowed to use flash indoors and so the majority of the indoor shots are taken without flash and some suffer slight bluriness because of it.) I hope you enjoy them as much as I did and they help to inspire ....

If only my own area designs looked as good as these .... ;)